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When home means plastic sheets

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Mohammed’s young son points to a place far in the distance. “That was our home, Q’assair” he says. “All the houses in our neighbourhood have been flattened now. Completely flattened.”

Mohammed and his family left Syria nearly two years ago, crossing the border into Lebanon to find safety.

They found a house to live in for a year, but when their contract ended the owner made them leave immediately.

“Some people gave me some wood and this plastic sheeting so we could manage to build this,” says Mohammed, gesturing to his new home. The family now lives with two others in a cluster of tents, one of thousands of informal shelters dotted across Lebanon.

They drink water from a tank that belongs to a local shepherd. Their home has no proper kitchen, shower or insulation.

He says: “Living here is very bad. We don’t have proper walls and in the winter the water comes in. Underneath it really smells bad and we have a lot of humidity here.”

‘I love her so much’

Mohammed’s wife is making bread on the stove in the middle of the room.  “The Red Cross gives us money so we can buy some basic things and we are grateful for that,” she says. “There isn’t much help out there for us. We need everything.“

The couple’s youngest daughter, Rukaya, sits close to her mother, watching as she tosses the bread from hand to hand. Rukaya is 10 but she’s not in school.

“I love my mum and I used to celebrate with her for her birthday or mothers’ day. I love her so much,” she says.

“When I was in Syria I could give her gifts. I brought her flowers and presents. I hope we can go back to before.”

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